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Crews gain upper hand on Mehl Creek fire

A wildland firefighter helps mop up the Mehl Creek fire in Douglas County.

Firefighters reached 80% containment Wednesday night on a 100-acre brush fire burning on a steep hillside in Douglas County, according to the Douglas Forest Protective Association.

Crews responded to the Mehl Creek fire, located three miles southwest of Elkton near Mehl Creek Road, at 8:25 p.m. Tuesday. The first firefighters on scene estimated the blaze to be about 40 acres and burning in an area that had previously been logged. The flames spread quickly, fueled by heavy brush and logging slash, DFPA spokesman Kyle Reed said.

Wind ignited numerous spot fires around the main blaze, according to a news release.

Accessing the fire proved to be a challenge at first.

“There were (logging) roads into it and around it, but we had to get those opened back up,” Reed said. “That was the biggest slowdown, initially, was trying to get those roads opened back up.”

Crews from the Kellogg Rural Fire Department, North Douglas County Fire & EMS, and Oakland Rural Fire Department also responded. The 115 firefighters to respond received aid from multiple water tenders, bulldozers and helicopters.

Mop-up operations could continue for several days.

“A lot of what burned was residual logging slash, so there’s a lot of material on the ground that burned. Going through that is a tedious process to make sure it’s fully mopped up,” Reed said. “I don’t know how long, exactly, it’s going to take, but we’re going to be out there for a little bit working on this.”

Reed added crews will almost have to “babysit” the fire over the course of the summer to make sure it doesn’t flare back up.

Reach Mail Tribune web editor Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or rpfeil@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter at @ryanpfeil.